Richard Hills is the Labour Party candidate for Northcote.
What do you think are the three greatest problems New Zealanders are facing at the moment?
Housing, Inequality and the lack of hope, services and opportunities for many young people.
What have you done thus far to help?
I’m not currently an MP, but have participated in the Lifewise Big Sleepout for the last four years to raise money and awareness to help end homelessness. I have advocated for affordable housing and support for community development on the local board I’m elected to. I also work as a Community Health Worker at Auckland Sexual Health, mostly working alongside high school students to support them and help their peers through tough times and help educate them to make positive change and decisions in their lives and for the future. Where ever I go I advocate for better outcomes for young people. Whether it’s ensuring young people have a voice in their communities or better services for their needs. I am also advocating for a Youth Centre in my community which focuses on things young people are interested in, with services and opportunities for training in the same place.
What do you intend to do as an MP to help?
Obviously our polices to build 10,000 homes a year for first home buyers, actually building more state homes, restricting overseas ownership and healthy home guarantee will help on the housing front. Also our many policies that help address inequality, including BestStart, raising the minimum wage and putting more money into health and education. I would also like to get more young people engaged in decision making. I have helped do this on my local board setting up children panels and the youth board. But a whole Government approach would be good, to increase voter turnout and engagement with policies that affect young people, even those who can’t vote. Find the gaps around services, jobs and training and help address them, Labour has a large number of policies that address youth services and employment but I would push for more as an MP from the inside.
Why should our readers give you their party vote?
I’d like you to vote for Labour so we get a Government that focuses on all New Zealanders, puts a real focus on everyone’s needs. We will intervene in the housing market to make housing more affordable, invest in jobs, research and development, youth training and employment. I believe we are the party that will actually make progressive change. We have before and we will again. It’s naive to assume that the Rainbow Community vote solely for parties that support rainbow issues. But for me I first became attracted to Labour at high school when we were learning about Civil Unions in social studies, it just seemed obvious to me that Labour was on the right side of history then and I couldn’t understand why the majority of Nats (including Key) were vocally opposed to it, just like homosexual law reform. I’m proud of Louisa’s Marraiage bill, but glad there was support from a good cross section of parliament this time. We have a diverse group of Rainbow candidates standing, yet National has one, that I know of and he voted against Marriage Equality. We need a more progressive parliament to make sure all our communities are heard and issues are addressed. Homes, Jobs and Families is what we are about, we want to invest in all of them.
What do you believe are the biggest issues specifically facing the GLBT community?
I think housing is a major factor for everyone, GLBTI/Rainbow or not. If we are specifically talking GLBTI/Rainbow issues, there is still a lot to do, like updating adoption laws, addressing human rights laws for everyone on the gender spectrum, making sure schools and workplaces are safe and accepting for everyone no matter their sexuality or gender identity. Also increasing the access to youth and mental health services.
What have you done thus far to address these?
I have been, along with others have been pushing for these within the party, publicly and in my job as a Community Health Worker. Activism is important for all of us. Speaking up makes sure people know there are issues to be addressed. We all can be a part of that.
Do you intend to address any of those if are successful at the next election. If so, how?
Yes, we have policies that will be announced on this. But like every community it’s important to engage through process and policy so everyone has a say and can help create solutions and be involved in changes that affect them. That’s what I would be advocating for anyway.
What would be your message to the New Zealanders so disillusioned by politics that they are not planning to vote this election?
Try to look beyond the negative messaging you might see. I know politicians from all sides who work their butts off, we also have probably the most easily accessible MPs in the world – either in real life or on social media. Find someone to vote for, find a party with policies and values that even slightly match yours. Obviously I’d encourage you to vote Labour, but voting at all is the important thing. We are all equal at the ballot box. Voting can make change. 34% of the country did not vote last time, even if 10% of them voted we could’ve had a very different outcome. Ignore the nastiness you may see, go talk to real life politicians and candidates, make them accountable to you, ask to meet with them, email them issues or turn up to a debate. Check out each party’s policy. Labour has tonnes of policy at www.labour.org.nz only some of it gets reported and it only takes a little while to scan through them. Obviously I am interested in politics, but I know it can and does make a difference. But simply not voting lets others make all the choice and decisions for you. There are also many other in our community who need you to vote for change too, voting for others in our community helps as well. Encourage people you know to enrol and vote. I’m a politics geek so I find it exciting, but I’m sure we are all only one step away from being engaged; if you feel ignored speak up.
Please complete the sentence:
- When I leave politics I would like my political career to be remembered for… making politics more accessible at all levels and giving young people a bigger voice and role in democracy than they currently have now.
- Winston Peters is… an interesting man.
- To be a great Prime Minister you need to… genuinely care about others, to listen to all views and not dismiss things you don’t understand. You also need to know that the job is bigger than yourself, it’s about making sure every New Zealander feels like they’ve been listened to even if they don’t support your party.
- Kim Dot Com is… still in the news.
- Nice guys finish…with everyone else? I dunno how to answer this one?
- New Zealand is…the best place to live, the people are great and I guess we take our surroundings for granted often. There are always thing we can do to make our communities better, but I feel pretty lucky to have grown up here.